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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

deep south dip

Now that we're following guidelines from Eat to Live, I eat all the time. I have to. It seems that I burn a lot of calories throughout the day, so I've begun incorporating as many snacks as possible, since most of them are pretty low-cal.

One of my favorites is raw veggies dipped in hummus made with roasted sweet potato & black-eye peas. It's really delicious, low-fat, and (if you make the peas yourself), incredibly low-sodium.

Southern Hummus

1 1/2 cups cooked black-eye peas
1 sweet potato
3 Tbs tahini
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne

So, let's talk peas. You can use canned black-eye peas, and you might be able to find some that are low in sodium. We've been using dried peas. It's pretty easy, but it takes a little longer. Follow the instructions on the bag for the overnight soak - the quick soak will do, but it's not as good - and then cook according to package directions, but (and this is important) use chicken stock instead of water. It'll give them much better flavor. Get low-sodium chicken stock, or make your own and keep it in little containers in the freezer.

To roast the sweet potato, poke a bunch of holes in the skin with a fork, and roast it in the oven at 425 for 45-55 minutes. Big ones may take more than an hour - the potato is done when a fork will easily slide all the way in. By the way, put a sheet of foil or an old baking sheet underneath the potato while you're roasting it. The sugars inside are going to leak out, and they'll stick to the bottom of the oven if you don't catch them.

During the last bit of roasting the sweet potato, put your two garlic cloves in the oven, too. You don't have to peel them, but you might want to wrap them in foil to hold in the moisture and kind of steam them as they roast. They should be brown and soft and slide out of their skins when they're done.

And now, it's easy.

If the potato is still hot, carefully pull the skin off of it. If you let it cool, you can recklessly remove the skin and throw it away.

In the food processor, combine everything. Pulse, pulse, pulse, until you get the texture you want. If it seems a little thick, add some water (a little at a time).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

kale crisps

Well, now that we've been following Eat to Live guidelines from Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the food around our house is a little different. Gone are the cookies, gone is the cheese. Gone is the BACON. (Sniff.) Gone are the three Scotches before bed.

I'm not going to lie - it wasn't an easy switch. But it makes sense that we should eat mostly fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. And I feel healthier, though I've had to make some alterations to his plan.

Dr. Fuhrman recommends a fairly strict vegan/pescatarian diet, but that doesn't work for me. After a month of eating like a gorilla, I had lost 15 pounds. I cannot afford to lose more, so I started keeping track of my caloric intake and expenditure on According to that calculator, I've been running a thousand-calorie deficit for the last month! It's no wonder I lost so much weight so quickly. So, I'm adding back some foods.

Long story short (too late), I think I've decided what to call myself. I'm a low-fat, low-sodium, whole grain, anti-processed-foods, non-dairy vegetarian who eats eggs and lean meat.

One thing we miss is sandwiches - I'm going to make some whole wheat beer bread this afternoon - so every once in a while, we stuff a whole wheat pita with grilled portobello mushrooms and sauteed veggies. And alongside it, we like to have kale chips.

Now, kale is a super food, but make no mistake about it - these are NOT substitutes for potato chips. But they are crispy and taste good.

Baked Kale 'Chips'

a bunch of kale
salt-free Tony Chachere's cajun seasoning

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse the kale well, and tear the leafy parts off of the tough ribs. Dry thoroughly.

Spread the kale on the baking sheet, and mist lightly with olive oil. (We got a Misto olive oil mister on ebay, and it works great.)

Sprinkle with Tony's.

Bake for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Eat to Live!

After a long hiatus, I am back posting. But this comeback post won't be exciting. Consider yourself warned.

There are two reasons this post is boring. First, it has no pictures. I haven't made Drew photograph our dinners lately, so I have no pictures to post. Sorry. Second, it's about Eat to Live.

What is Eat to Live, you ask? It's a book/lifestyle plan by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. We're following it, which means that we are not eating: (1) oil; (2) dairy; (3) (most) meat; (4) sugar; (5) salt; or (6) refined carbohydrates. But because we are rockstar cooks, we are nonetheless making some delicious meals.

I cheat a little. I have a plethora of homemade chicken stock frozen, so I use it, even though I'm not supposed to eat animal protein. And I use a dash of fish sauce pretty often, which is high in salt. And we have seafood once or twice a week. But on the whole, we're following this pretty strictly.

The first week was hell because we followed the "recipes" in the back of the book. It's an understatement to say they were yucky. Dr. Fuhrman does provide some good recipes, but they're few and far between. And there's not much on the internet...or if there is, I can't find it.

So, I'm going to be posting our favorite Eat to Live-ish recipes over the next...well, lifetime if this sticks. Dr. Fuhrman recognizes that it's hard to eat this way, so we're allowed to eat the restricted foods 10% of the time. So, the death food recipes won't disappear all together, but the healthy recipes will definitely increase. With pictures in the future, I promise.

Accordingly, I offer a recipe for Apple-Butternut Squash Soup:

1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, diced but not peeled
1 red onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. ginger, minced
2 small dried hot red peppers, crushed
5 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock (or homemade chicken stock if you're bad like I am)
2 tbsp. garam masala
1 small squeeze of fish sauce (optional)

Sprinkle squash with about half of the garam masala and roast on a baking pan lined in foil at 425 for 45 minutes or until mushy. In the meantime, saute apples, onion, cloves, peppers, and ginger.

Now, "saute" does not mean "saute in oil," though if you weren't following this diet, you could do that. No, "saute" means "water saute," a term Dr. Furhman coined. Basically you add about 3 tbsp. of water to a very hot pan, add your vegetables, and continue adding small amounts of water as it dries up, until the vegetables are cooked through. They will brown slightly using this method. They will also make a hot mess of your pans.

Ok, so once veggies are sauteed and squash roasted, combine and add stock and remaining garam masala and simmer 30 min or so. Puree in batches in a blender. You can add some arrowroot powder (a tablespoon or so) if you want a thicker consistency, but it works a bit like cornstarch, so it gives soups a kind of shiny texture that I associate with Chinese food and also find weird.

That's it! This soup is good and satisfying on a cold winter night. It takes a while but it's not hard, and it's worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

starch substitute

When Kaytie and I first moved in together, we made a lifestyle change. We went low-carb.

(This lasted for a while, we lost weight, and then we went back to eating like normal people. We occasionally go back to the low-carb lifestyle when necessary.)

This was the beginning of our cooking escapades, and one of our favorite sides that we discovered was mashed cauliflower. This turned out to be a great substitute for grits and felt starchy, even though it was a vegetable. We could eat the mashed cauliflower for dinner one night, and then the next morning, the leftovers were great with fried eggs.

I'm pretty sure the recipe for these came from the South Beach cookbook, but I've made them so many times that I don't remember the original.

Mashed Cauliflower 'Grits'

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

4 oz fat-free cream cheese

1/2 c 'Italian-mix' grated cheese (or good Parmesan, if you'd rather)

1/4 c butter

garlic salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 while you are cutting up the cauliflower.

Spread the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

Combine everything in the food processor and puree until the cauliflower is the texture of grits.

Easy as pie.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

pb & cake

Yesterday, I attended a lunch presentation about the state of obesity in Mississippi. (Basically, it's a problem.)

The yogurt parfait served as dessert, while good, did not satisfy my sweet tooth, even after I ate an extra one. So, last night, I made a cake.

It wasn't really my idea. After dinner, Kaytie said she wanted some cake. I always want cake, but I was feeling a bit lazy, so I wasn't really sold on making a cake until Kaytie started talking about peanut butter icing. That got me motivated, and since we are not obese, I looked up a Cook's Illustrated chocolate cake recipe. They suggested serving the cake with a dusting of powdered sugar, which I'm sure is nice.

But powdered sugar ain't got nothin' on this peanut butter icing.

(Because this is thick, it may be more accurately labeled as frosting, not icing, but when I was growing up, if it was spread on a cake, it was icing, no matter the consistency. Besides, who cares about semantics? It's delicious.)

Peanut Butter Icing

makes enough to ice a 2-layer 9-inch cake

1 stick room temperature butter

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

Cream the butter and peanut butter until smooth. (Note: if you decided to make this cake at the last minute, like I did, cold butter out of the fridge will do fine. It'll just take a little longer to get the mixture smooth.)

Beat in the powdered sugar. This may be easier and less dusty if you do it a cup at a time.

Finally, add the milk. Mix it all together until it is smoothly combined.

Ice your cake.

(Because of the milk, I'm keeping this cake in the fridge.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

fresh mex

Last night, I grilled a flank steak and served it with asparagus, corn salad, and sauteed mushrooms. Tonight, we decided to use the leftover steak for tacos.

To go alongside, I made pinto beans. They were beautiful. I started with dried beans, soaked them, and started them simmering in plenty of time for a dinner at seven thirty. They had five different kinds of peppers in them, including jalapenos from my garden and banana pepper from Daniel's. Fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market. Kaytie walked in after work and immediately asked about the wonderful smell that filled the house.

"Beans," I said as I dumped half a beer into the pot. We went out to the back deck to have a beer and to admire the lights I'd spent the day hanging. One beer turned into two, and when we finally went back in, the beans were burned.

So, instead of beans, I'm offering a recipe for guacamole. Growing up in Texas, I heard lots of recipes for guacamole. Some use sour cream, some marshmallow fluff, some start with store-bought guacamole. This recipe is simple, fresh, and delicious. And not burned.


2 avocados
1 tomato, peeled & diced
1/4 c diced red onion
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic, roasted & minced
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste
(cilantro to taste, optional)
(1/4 red bell pepper, diced & optional)
(1 tomatillo, diced & optional)

Start with roasting your garlic cloves. I toss mine in some olive oil and roast it in the toaster oven for about ten minutes at 450.

While the garlic is roasting, get the meat out of the avocados. Run your knife around the equator of the avocado, penetrating to the pit. Unlock the magic by pulling and twisting the two halves apart. Set the pit aside. (I have not experimented to prove this, but I was raised to believe that if you put the pit back into the guacamole when you put it in the fridge, your guac won't turn brown.) Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh of the avocado into a medium bowl.

Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado and use two knives to cut the avocado into small pieces. Mush it around a little.

Slice the top off your jalapeno and throw it away. Slice it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the white ribs and seeds and get rid of them. Dice the rest of the jalapeno very small and add it to the avocado.

Add all of the other ingredients. (I recommend all of the optional ingredients.) Mix well. Eat with chips.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

baked pasta 2

I have a tendency to get interested in one thing and go a little overboard. (You may have noticed a string of cookie posts about a year ago.) Well, I did it again. I only made two baked pastas, but it was within one week, which was too much baked pasta for Kaytie.

This was a good recipe, too, but it might be good to space your baked pastas out!

Baked Veggie Pasta

1 stick butter
1/2 c + 2 Tbs flour
4 c whole milk
6 slices bacon
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 c fresh basil, sliced
1/2 c roasted pine nuts (or walnuts)
1 onion, diced
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
10 oz spinach
4 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 lb pasta (choose your favorite shape)
2 Tbs butter
1-2 c grated Parmesan

First, make the bechamel. Melt the stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Mix in the flour. Add the milk. Increase the heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the garlic. I do this in the toaster oven - about 15 minutes at 400. Chop it up.

Chop up the bacon and saute it until just browned. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned. Set mushrooms and bacon aside.

Saute the onion until translucent. Add spinach and saute until wilted.

Stir the basil, nuts, bacon, and all veggies together in a medium bowl.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, but stop cooking a minute or two early. (I used radiatore because it looked awesome.) You want the pasta to be be just tender, but still firm. Drain, return to the pot, and toss to coat with 2 Tbs butter. Mix in the veggies.

Preheat oven to 400.

Dump the pasta mixture in a greased casserole dish. Spread the bechamel over it, and top with grated Parmesan.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.